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Family history


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     The earliest known member of this family line is Caspar Beck, our 12th great-grandfather. Caspar was most likely born around 1550 in that area of present day Germany that lies within the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. More is known about his son also named Caspar who was born circa 1575 in Bad Urach a small village located in the district of Reutlingen. Caspar married Maria Hasen (Haas) a native of the nearby town of Dettingen an der Erms. This event may have taken place in Maria’s home town as it appears the couple resided here until around 1610.  To this union at least seven known off-spring were born between 1600 and 1618.  Caspar probably died sometime between 1618 – 1628.  This event probably occurred near the town of Eningen which is also located within the aforementioned district of Reutlingen.

    Our 10th great-grandmother Anna Maria Beck was born at Dettingen an der Erms in 1607.  Around 1620 she married Jorg Schall of Bonlanden.  One known off-spring, Blasius Schall, II was produced of this union in 1625.   It is through him that our lineage continues.   Anna probably lived the remainder of her life in the village of Bonlanden, now located in the district of Esslingen.


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Direct ancestors

Ancestral Lineage

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Generation 1

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CASPAR1 BECK was born about 1550 in Baden-Württemberg, Germany (?).


Caspar Beck had the following child:

CASPAR2 BECK was born about 1575 in Bad Urach, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He died between 1618-1628 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He married Maria Haas, daughter of Hans Haas and Maria Bannheurs about 1599 in Enlingen Parish, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. She was born on 04 Dec 1580 in Dettingen an der Erms, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. She died after 1617 in Eningen Parish, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany ?.

Generation 2

CASPAR2 BECK (Caspar1) was born about 1575 in Bad Urach, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He died between 1618-1628 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He married Maria Haas, daughter of Hans Haas and Maria Bannheurs about 1599 in Enlingen Parish, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. She was born on 04 Dec 1580 in Dettingen an der Erms, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. She died after 1617 in Eningen Parish, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany ?.


Caspar Beck and Maria Haas had the following children:


i.        JOHANNES3 BECK was born on 27 May 1600 in Dettingen an der Erms, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.


ii.      CATHARINA BECK was born on 25 Apr 1602 in Dettingen an der Erms, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. She married Johann Bader on 10 Dec 1628 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He was born on 24 Jun 1604 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


4.              iii. ANNA MARIA BECK was born on 24 Nov 1607 in Dettingen an der Erms, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. She died after 1625 in Bonlanden, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. She married Jorg Schall, son of Blasius Schall in 1620 in Germany. He was born about 1600 in Esslingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. He died after 1625 in Bonlanden, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


iv.     HANS JOACHIM BECK was born on 10 Apr 1612 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


v.      ELIZABETHA BECK was born in 1613 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


vi.     SOPHIA BECK was born on 06 Dec 1615 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


vii.   HANS CASPAR BECK was born on 30 Jan 1618 in Eningen, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.  

Generation 3

3.     ANNA MARIA3 BECK (Caspar2, Caspar1) was born on 24 Nov 1607 in Dettingen an der Erms, Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. She died after 1625 in Bonlanden, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. She married Jorg Schall, son of Blasius Schall in 1620 in Germany. He was born about 1600 in Esslingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. He died after 1625 in Bonlanden, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


Jorg Schall and Anna Maria Beck had the following child:


i.        BLASIUS4 SCHALL II was born in 1625 in Bonlanden, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He died after 1651 in Bonlanden, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He married Anna Laux, daughter of Hans Laux in 1651. She was born about 1625 in Baden-Württemberg, Germany (??). She died after 1651 in Bonlanden, Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.  

Source Citations

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Source documents



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The documents contained within this “Source Documents Archives” have been located during our research of this family, and used as evidence to prove many of the facts contained within the database of this family’s record.   We have source documents related to the following persons within our database with this surname.


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You are welcome to download any of the documents contained within this archive that does not cite a copyright.  Should you encounter a problem obtaining a copy you may get in touch with us via the contact information found at the end of this web-page.

     Most of these documents can be considered as primary or secondary evidence.  Primary evidence is usually defined as the best available to prove the fact in question, usually in an original document or record.  Secondary evidence is in essence all that evidence which is inferior in its origin to primary evidence. That does not mean secondary evidence is always in error, but there is a greater chance of error.  Examples of this type of evidence would be a copy of an original record, or oral testimony of a record’s contents.  Published genealogies and family histories are also secondary evidence.

     Classifying evidence as either primary or secondary does not tell anything about its accuracy or ultimate value.  This is especially true of secondary evidence.  Thus it is always a good idea to ask the following questions: (1) How far removed from the original is it, (when it is a copy)?; (2) What was the reason for the creation of the source which contains this evidence?; and (3) Who was responsible for creating this secondary evidence and what interest did they have in its accuracy?

SOURCE: Greenwood, Val D., The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD 21202, 1990, pgs. 62-63

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Migration routes

Migrations of the
American Family

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       Tracing our own family’s paths of migration can prove crucial in identifying previous generations and eventually, figuring out where and how they arrived in the “New World” as well as where they eventually settled.  Knowing the network of trails American pioneers traveled can help you guess where to start looking.  The trail map(s) provided below may assist you in understanding the routes that our direct ancestors of this family may have taken to find new homes and opportunities in the vast area now encompassed by the United States.

      During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the perilous ocean voyage to America.  For many it was an escape from economic hardship and religious persecution.  For most it was an opportunity to start over, own their own land, and make a better future for their descendents.

Immigration records show a number of people bearing the name of BECK, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Some of these immigrants were: Henry Beck, who embarked from the Port of London on the "Blessing" in July 1635, bound for New England.; Alexander Beck who settled in Boston Mass. in 1634; In Newfoundland, Thomas Beck settled in St. John's in 1821.

Use the following links to find more early immigrants with this surname:

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The Development of an Historical Migration Route

It is understood that in many if not all cases we do not know exactly what routes our ancestors took as they migrated throughout the United States.   As such certain assumptions have been utilized to re-create the migration path presented above.  With regard to 18th and 19th century land routes we assume that they travelled along few trails and roads that were in existence at the time.  Research shows that a great many of these old paths and trails are today designated as U.S. Highway Routes.  For example, a major east-west route of migration known as the National Road is now U.S. Route 40, and a primary north-south migration route of the 18th century followed the Great Indian War and Trading Path is now U.S. Route 11.  In some situations the re-created migration route may travel along state routes that connect or run through the seat of a county as that populated place is probably the oldest settlement in the area. The use of water as a migration route is also likely.  For example, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries many families travelled west on the Ohio River as they moved on the new lands in Missouri or the Old Northwest Territory.  As such when applicable water routes have been included as the possible migration route.   

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During our research we have collected images and photographs that are of general interest to a particular family.  Some of them are presented on this website because we believe they tend to provide the reader with additional information which may aid in the understanding of our ancestors past lives.  We have images related to the following persons within our database with this surname.




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Ancestral locations

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Researching the locations where our ancestors lived has provided us with valuable evidence needed to fill in the gaps in our family trees.  It has also led us to many interesting facts that enhance the overall picture of each family group.

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Locations of Our Direct Ancestors


The names of states and counties on the following list were derived from the known places where the Direct Ancestors in the “Ancestral Lineage” (see above) were born, married, and / or died.






Esslingen;   Reutlingen

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Locational distribution of Surname

Locational Distribution of This Surname

Knowing the geographical areas where the surname you are researching is clustered and distributed is an indispensable tool in deciding where to focus your research.  We believe that the “Public Profiler” website will open up to you a wide range of solutions which implement current research in spatial analysis.  This site provides an array of local spatial information tools useful to the genealogist. 

The information presented herein shows where the BECK surname is distributed within North America as well as in Germany the probable country of origin of this family.  Statistics show that there are approximately 846.24 persons per million of population with this surname, within Germany, and 425.88 persons per million of population within the United States.   Switzerland is found to be the country in the world where this surname is the most highly clustered having approximately 921.34 persons per million of population.  The top region in the World where this surname is the most highly clustered is Ostschweiz, Switzerland with  2412.41 persons per million, and Sønderjylland, Denmark is the top city where this surname is found.



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Resources which enhance our knowledge of the places inhabited by our ancestors are almost as important as their names. The LINK to the right will take you to Maps, Gazetteers,   and  other  helpful   resources 

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that will assist in discovering Ancestral Locations.  These web sites comprise only a small portion of what is available for researchers interested in learning more about where their ancestors lived.

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Origins of the Surname

An Introduction

to the Surname


of the Surname

History of

the Surname

More About



An Introduction to the Surname

The practice of inherited family surnames began in England and France during the late part of the 11th century.   Surnames were first utilized in the Germanic region of central Europe during the second half of the 12th century.  The custom of taking on surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northward during the Middle Ages.  It took about three hundred years for this tradition to apply to most families and become a constant part of one’s identity.        With the passing of generations and the movement of families from place to place many of the original identifying names were altered into some of the versions that we are familiar with today.  Over the centuries, most of our European ancestors accepted their surname as an unchangeable part of their lives.  Thus people rarely changed their surname.  Variations of most surnames were usually the result of an involuntary act such as when a government official wrote a name phonetically or made an error in transcription. 


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Research into the record of this BECK family line indicates that the variations, meanings and history of this surname are most likely linked to that area of Europe where German linguistic traditions are commonly found. 


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Source(s) & Meaning(s) of the Surname

     Most modern Germanic family names are a means conveying lineage.  For the most part, German surnames were developed from four major sources: (1) Patronymic & Matronymic surnames most common in northern Germany are based on a parent’s first name, such as Niklas Albrecht (Niklas son of Albrecht);  (2) occupational surnames are last names based on the person’s job or trade for example Lukas Fischer (Lukas the Fisherman);  (3) descriptive surnames are based on a unique quality or physical feature of the individual like Karl Braun (Karl with brown hair); (4) geographical surnames are derived from the location of the homestead from which the first bearer and his family lived such as Leon Meer (Leon from by the sea), or derived from the state, region, or village of the first bearer's origin for example Paul Cullen (Paul from Koeln/Cologne).

BECK is a German occupational name for a baker, a cognate of Baker, from (older) South German beck.  BECK is also a North German: topographic name for someone who lived by a stream, from Low German Beke ‘stream’. Compare the High German form Bach

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History of the Surname

Most German names have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages.  The process of forming family names in what is present day Germany began early in the 12th Century and extended th16th century 

BECK is a very early Germanic name and is one of the very first recorded where German linguistic traditions are commonly found.   Due to its popularity and duration this name, and its variant spellings, have traveled widely in many forms throughout Europe.   The name was first found in Germanic Westphalia region located within the Duchy of Saxony.of the Late Middle Ages.  The Beck name therein became noted for its many branches with the region, each house acquiring a status and influence which was envied by the princes of the region.   One such house was the Schleswig-Holstein-Beck a branch of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg branch of the House of Oldenburg.  It consisted of August Philipp, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (1612-1675), and his male-line descendants.  Schleswig-Holstein-Glücksburg, to which several present-day royal houses belong, is a branch of Schleswig-Holstein-Beck. The members of the line were titular dukes of Schleswig and Holstein and were originally not ruling. The line is named after Beck, a manor in Ulenburg, Bishopric of Minden located today at Löhne,  in North Rhine Westphalia.

This German surname appeared quite early into the former British colonies of North America, especially William Penn’s Province of Pennsylvania.   One reason for this was that after the prince of the Electorate of Hanover, in Germany also became king of England in 1715, German emigration to America was greatly encouraged.   Thus the German name does tend to be confused with the English versions due to the fact that name from both countries is often in the same spelling, which is perhaps not surprising as they share similar pre 7th century "Anglo-Saxon" roots.  


Some of the best known bearers of the Beck name are:  Glenn Beck, American conservative radio/TV talk show host and comedian; Jeff Beck (born 1944), British electric guitarist; Claude Beck (1894–1971), American cardiac surgeon who invented the defibrillator;  Jonathan Mock Beck (1935–2006), American mathematician; and Rollo Beck (1870–1950), American bird collector.

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More About Surname Meanings & Origins

German Surnames

Many German names have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages. The process of forming family names began early in the 12th Century and extended through the 16th century. All social classes and demographic strata aided in the development of names. First Names (Rufnamen) identified specific persons. Over time the first name began to be applied to the bearer's whole family.  At first through verbal usage, family names (Familiennamen) were later fixed through writing.  Until the 17th century, first names played a more important role. The earliest family names derived from the first name of the first bearer (Patronym). Later names derived from the place of dwelling and location of the homestead.  If a person of family migrated from one place to another they were identified by the place they came from.  Of more recent origin are names derived from the vocation of profession of the first bearer. These names comprise the largest group and the most easily recognizable, for they tell what the first bearer did for a living.  Another group are names derived from a physical or other characteristic of the first bearer.  Finally, there are names that tell you the state or region a first bearer and his family came from; the age old division in tribes and regions (Low German, Middle German and Upper German) is often reflected in names.

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Variations of the surname

Variations of
the Surname


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Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to unfold and expand often leading to an overwhelming number of variants.  As such one can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames because in early times, spelling in general and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized.  Later on spellings would change with the branching and movement of families. The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents.

Spelling variations of this family name include: Spelling variations of this family name include: Beck, Becke, Bech, Beche and many more.   

Click on the button to find the variants of this or any other surname by utilizing The Name Thesaurus a ground-breaking technology for finding Surname and Forename variants. 

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This useful genealogy research tool has identified 385 million variants for 5,929,000 Surnames and 26 million variants for 1,246,000 Forenames, as well as gender identification for more than 220,000 Forenames.

NameX matched 353 spelling variations of this family name. The top 20 are:


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The Soundex System was developed in an effort to assist with identifying spelling variations for a given surname. Soundex is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Census, and can aid genealogists in their research.   The Soundex Code for BECK = B200.  Other surnames sharing this Soundex Code:  BACA | BACH | BACK | BAGG | BAGGS | BAGSHAW | BAJWA | BAKKE | BASEY | BASH | BASHAW | BASS | BAUGH | BAUZA | BAYES | BAYS | BAYSA | BEACH | BECK | BEECH | BEGG | BEGGS | BESCH | BESCO | BESS | BESSE | BESSEY | BEZY | BIAS | BICE | BIGA | BIGGE | BIGGS | BISE | BISH | BIZGIA | BOASE | BOAZ | BOCK | BOESCH | BOESE | BOGGS | BOGUE | BOICE | BOISSEAU | BOOCO | BOOK | BOOZ | BOS | BOSCH | BOSCHEE | BOSS | BOUCK | BOUGH | BOUSE | BOUSH | BOWES | BOWICK | BOX | BOYCE | BOYES | BOYS | BOYSE | BOZE | BUCCI | BUCH | BUCK | BUCKEY | BUCY | BUGG | BUIJS | BUS | BUSCH | BUSH | BUSHEY | BUSKE | BUSS | BUSSA | BUSSE | BUSSEY | BUYS |

If The Name Thesaurus doesn’t adequately address the name you are looking for check out the following link:

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Armorial bearings, symbols and mottoes

Armorial Bearings, Mottoes & Symbols


Heraldry in

Western Europe

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Descriptions of the

Armorial Bearings

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Armorial Bearings

Heraldry in western europe

An Introduction to Heraldry in Europe

     The seeds of heraldic structure in personal identification can be detected in the account in a contemporary chronicle of Henry I of England, on the occasion of his knighting his son-in-law Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, in 1127. He placed to hang around his neck a shield painted with golden lions. The funerary enamel of Geoffrey (died 1151), dressed in blue and gold and bearing his blue shield emblazoned with gold lions, is the first recorded depiction of a coat of arms.

       By the middle of the 12th century,  coats of arms were being inherited by the children of armigers (persons entitled to use a coat of arms) across Europe. Between 1135 and 1155, seals representing the generalized figure of the owner attest to the general adoption of heraldic devices in England, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.  By the end of the century, heraldry appears as the sole device on seals.  In England, the practice of using marks of cadency arose to distinguish one son from another: the conventions became standardized in about 1500, and are traditionally supposed to have been devised by John Writhe.

     In the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, heraldry became a highly developed discipline, regulated by professional officers of arms. As its use in jousting became obsolete, coats of arms remained popular for visually identifying a person in other ways – impressed in sealing wax on documents, carved on family tombs, and flown as a banner on country homes. The first work of heraldic jurisprudence, De Insigniis et Armis, was written in the 1350s by Bartolus de Saxoferrato, a professor of law at the University of Padua.

    In the Germanic areas of Central Europe heraldry spread to the German burgher class in the 13th century, and even some peasants used arms in the 14th century.  A German coat of arms is usually referred to by any of the following terms; Wappen, Familienwappen, Blasonierung, Heraldik, or Wappenschablonen.

     In the British Isles the College of Arms, (founded in 1483), is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.  In Scottish heraldry, the Lord Lyon King of Arms in the Act of 1672 is empowered to grant arms to "vertuous [virtuous] and well deserving persons."

     Although heraldry in France and the lowlands of Belguim and Holland had a considerable history, like England, existing from the eleventh century, such formality has largely died out in these locations. The role of the herald (héraut) in France declined in the seventeenth century.  Many of the terms in international heraldry come from French

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Image gallery

Gallery of Images

Beck of Forez

Figure 1

Beck of Germany copy

Figure 2

Beck of Denmark

Figure 3

Beck of Baden

Figure 4

Beck of Westphalia

Figure 5

Beck of Lorraine & Lux) copy

Figure 6

Beck of London

Figure 7

Beck of Wesphalia 2

Figure 8

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Descriptions of the Armorial Bearings

Heraldry symbols such as the colors, lines and shapes found on coats-of-arms are generally referred to as charges.  Although there is some debate over whether or not the charges have any universal symbolism many persons do believe they may represent an idea or skill of the person who originally had the armorial bearings created.  If this assumption has any validity charges may provide clues to early family history of that person.  The associated armorial bearings for this surname and close variant spellings are recorded in Burke’s General Armoire and Rietstap’s Armorial General.  The additional information, presented below, is offered with regard to the armorial bearings depicted above. 



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FIGURE 1: BECK of Forez

These arms most likely belonged to a Beck de Crozet who resided at Saint-Georges-de-Baroille in Forez, a former province of France. The silver shield contains a double –headed eagle* with golden legs and beak.  * The double-headed eagle was borne by the German emperors (who claimed to be considered the successors of the Caesars of Rome), and hence the term frequently applied to it is the imperial eagle. The wings of the imperial eagle are always drawn by German heralds with a small feather between each pair of large ones. An eagle is also borne by the emperor or czar (that is Cæsar) of Russia.

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FIGURE 2: BECK of Germany

Rietstap has attributed this coat-of-arms to a Beck of the former German Empire.  The shield is divided quarterly.  Quarters 1 and 4 are gold and contain a black antelope* (rampant) supported on a green mound.  The 2nd and 3rd quarters are red and contain a white fleur-de-lis. The crest features a golden griffin (issuant) holding an arrow pointing down in its dexter (right) paw.   * The heraldic antelope is a mythical animal with the body of a stag, the tail of a unicorn, a tusk at the tip of the nose, tufts down the back of the neck, chest, and thighs.  It signifies either harmony, political cunning, or peace.

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FIGURE 3: BECK of Denmark

These arms were granted to a Beck of the Kingdom of Denmark.  The blue shield holds a white fleur-de-lis*.  The crest (not shown) is of a helmet face with two white two fleurs-de-lis.  * The fleur-de-lis represents any of the following attributes: purity; light; floral badge of France; or the sixth son as mark of difference. Although there has been much controversy concerning the origin of this bearing, no doubt it represents the lily, but in a conventional form, such as was produced by the workers in metal. It is essentially the Royal Badge of France, having been adopted by King Louis VII. in the twelfth century. It appears amongst the Royal Badges in England in the time of the Stuarts.

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FIGURE 4: Beck of Baden

These armorial bearings were bestowed upon a Beck of the Margraviate of Baden who was a titled as a nobleman of the Holy Roman Empire in 1757.  The shield is gold and contains a naturally colored deer* (rampant). The crest features a natural deer (issuant).  * The deer has a variety of symbolic meanings. It can indicate someone skilful in music and a lover of harmony. It may also indicate a person who foresees opportunities well. In the latter case it is a symbol used for one who is unwilling to assail enemies rashly, who would rather stand his own ground that harm another wrongfully, and one who will not fight unless provoked.

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FIGURE 5: Beck of Westphalia

This coat-of-arms belonged to a Beck of Westphalia region of Germany. The gold shield holds a black saltire* (cross).  The crest shows the head of dog with a red collar.  *The saltire is supposed to represent the cross whereon Saint Andrew was crucified.  The dog represents the virtues of courage, vigilance, and loyalty.

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FIGURE 6: Beck of Lorraine

These armorial bearings were bestowed upon a Johann or Jean Baron von Beck in 1637.  This Beck and his descendants held lands within the Lorraine region of France and the Duchy of Luxembourg.  The red* shield shows two white lions (combatant) armed with a double-headed long axe.  The crest is of a white lion's head (issuant) between two red proboscis (elephant trunks). * The color red symbolizes either, a warrior or martyr as well as military strength and magnanimity.

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FIGURE 7: Beck of London

This coat-of-arms belonged to the Beck Baronets of London, England.  The arms were created for Justus Beck in 1714, and remained in the family until the title became extinct on the death of his second son, the third baronet, in 1764.   The shield is divided quarterly. The 1st quarter is gold and holds a blackbird the 4th quarter is blue and contains a gold dolphin*.  Quarters 2 and 3 are silver each with a gold star.    The crest features a blackbird between two golden wings.  * The dolphin is an emblem of safe travel, as well as kindness and charity. Though the dolphin is now known to be a mammal and not a fish at all, older heralds considered it the king of fish, just as the lion was king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds.

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FIGURE 8: Beck of Westphalia

These arms have been attributed to a Beck of Westphalia region of Germany. The shield is black and contains a golden annulet*. There are several crest designs associated with these arms.  They include a hat between two gold reeds, an annulet with three martlets as well as the black and gold plumes as shown above.  *The annulet is a plain ring. As a closed circle, it is symbolic of continuity and wholeness. The Romans are said to have worn a ring as a sign of knighthood and rings are still used at some coronations and in the institution of knighthood. The annulet may have been borne to indicate that the bearer had the superior qualities of a knight. In some circles an annulet represented riches. On English arms an annulet was a mark of cadency signifying the fifth son.


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Heraldry as a research tool

Using Heraldry as a Family History  Research Tool

    Wondering whether you are descended of the nobility*?  Are you aware of an ancestor who held a prominent political position or had a title such as Sir, or Esquire?  If so you just might be descended from royalty.   If you are of European descent, you are probably a descendant of Charlemagne.  Once you are able to prove your line of descent from him, you will then find thousands of links to other royalty in your list of relatives.  It is rare indeed that the genealogy of a person of European descent, when traceable, doesn’t hit nobility somewhere.  And once it hits one European noble, whether you like it or not, hundreds of new names will become a part of your family.

*The nobility is a class of people who had special political and social status. Nobility is inherited or granted by the Crown as a reward to people who perform a heroic deed, achieve greatness in some endeavor, or hold a prominent government position.


    If you have elementary knowledge of heraldry you may wish to use this practice to trace your founding forefather.  If you know the geographical place (country, county, city) where the family coat-of-arms was first identified, you may well search its history for the family name in question in order to find your direct ancestor.  Remember that most noble European family pedigrees have been thoroughly researched and published.   By putting together the family surname with the known location you may find a treasure trove of valuable information about yourIf you ancestors.  During you research you should be aware of the possibility of variant spellings of the surname upon pursing your research.  See Variations of the Surname for more information about variant spellings of this surname.


Many family historians who have not connected with a noble ancestor may just want to know what their family coat-of-arms looks like.  If this is the situation you must known that except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms is a design usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname.  Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  As a result you are advised to seek out a coat-of-arms for the locale where your ancestor resided.

For example: we have an Arnold ancestor who is known to have emigrated to America from the town of Erlangen, in Bavaria, Germany.  Current research shows Erlangen is located in the area of Bavaria known as Middle Franconia.  Upon review of the historic locations for Arnold as noted in one source we find places in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands and others.   One coat-of-arms is listed as belonging to an Arnold of Franconia, Bavaria.  As such we may conclude that this is the coat-of-arms having some relevance to our ancestor.  He may well be a blood relative of the aforementioned noble Arnold.   He or his ancestor may have been employed by or a serf of the noble Arnold family of that locale.  In some cases the name of the noble family becomes the name of the locale resulting in the ancestor appropriating it a as surname, see Sources and Meanings of the Surname to ascertain whether the surname you are interested in is a locational name.


 In an effort to assist with your research we’ve provided additional information regarding the coats-of-arms for this surname and some of its close variant spellings.  The “historical locations” have been extracted from heraldic sources.  Most of the locations on the continent of Europe such as German, France, Switzerland, etc. have come from Rietstap’s Armorial General.    Those locations in the British Isles and Ireland were primarily found in Burke’s The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and WalesAs both of these heraldic resources were first published in the 1860’s and revised over the next two decades the information therein would be relevant to that period as well as earlier times as far back as 1500.

The following is a listing of the locations cited within the aforementioned heraldry resources for this surname and its close variant spellings.

BECK – Forez;  Westphalia;  Baden;  Hildburghausen;  Hamburg;  Saxony;  Nuremberg;  Basel; 

               St. Gallen;  Denmark; Hanover;  Bréme;  Sweden;  Bavaria;  Austria

In an effort to further assist you with your research we have developed a Gazetteer of Historical Locations in Europe as cited in Rietstap’s Armorial General.  Within the gazetteer you will find brief definitions of the historical locale and the present locations of places noted above in Black Type.  

If you are interested in the armorial bearings of a particular surname we strongly advise that you utilize the resources provided within this area of our web page.  If you have any questions or need any assistance with regard to using heraldry as a means to further or widen your family history research you are welcome to contact us, see About This Webpage.

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Motto(es) of this Surname

     A motto is a word or sentence usually written upon a scroll and generally placed below the shield, but sometimes, especially in Scotland, above the crest.    Many ancient mottoes were war-cries such as the Douglas motto of “Forward.”    Many mottoes refer to the name of the bearer, for example “cole regem” for Coleridge.   In general most mottoes convey a sentiment, hope, or determination, such as the Cotter motto “Dum spiro spero” where the meaning is “While I have breath I hope“.     Mottoes are often used by several successive generations, but may be changed at any time by the grantee. The languages most in use are Latin, French, and English.  Exceptions are seen in Scotland where they are often in the old Lowland dialect, and in Wales, often in the language of the principality.   

 It is unusual to find a motto associated with the coat-of-arms of a noble German family.  This is also the case with the BECK surname.  This does not necessarily mean that the Germanic culture is devoid of mottos.  For example, the national motto of Germany is “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit”, meaning Unity and Justice and Freedom.  The German word for motto is “Wahlspruch.”   Some of the more well known German mottoes are as follows: Alte Wunden bluten leicht – Old wounds readily bleed anew;    Blut und Eisen – Blood and iron;  Das beste is gut genug – The best is good enough;  Ein’ feste Burg is unser Gott – Our God is a strong tower of defense;  Ewigkeit – Eternity;  Für Gott und Iht – All for God and her;  Gott is überall – God is over all;  Gott mit uns – God is with us;  Ich dien – I serve;  Krieg – War;  Mehr Licht! – More light!;  Nichts zoviel – Nothing in excess;  Prosit! – Good luck!;    Vaterland – Fatherland;  Vertrau’ auf Gott – Put your trust in God;  Vorwärts! – Forward!;   Zu dienen – At your service.

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Heraldic bearings

More about Heraldic Bearings

The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. The use of coats of arms by countries, states, provinces, towns and villages is called civic heraldry.   A Coat of Arms is defined as a group of emblems and figures (heraldic bearings) usually arranged on and around a shield and serving as the special insignia of some person, family, or institution.  Except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms, more properly called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings or often just arms for short, is a design usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname.  Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  The rules and traditions regarding Coats of Arms vary from country to country. Therefore a Coat of Arms for an English family would differ from that of a German family even when the surname is the same. 

Some of the more prominent elements incorporated into a  coat of arms are :

Crest - The word crest is often mistakenly applied to a coat of arms.  The crest was a later development arising from the love of pageantry.  Initially the crest consisted of charges painted onto a ridge on top of the helmet.

Wreath or Torse – The torse is a twist of cloth or wreath underneath and part of a crest. Always shown as six twists, the first tincture being the tincture of the field, the second the tincture of the metal, and so on.

Mantling – The mantling is a drapery tied to the helmet above the shield. It forms a backdrop for the shield.

Helm or Helmet - The helmet or helm is situated above the shield and bears the torse and crest. The style of helmet displayed varies according to rank and social status, and these styles developed over time, in step with the development of actual military helmets.

Shield or Arms - The basis of all coats of arms.  At their simplest, arms consist of a shield with a plain field on which appears a geometrical shape or object.  The items appearing on the shield are known as charges.

Motto - The motto was originally a war cry, but later mottoes often expressed some worthy sentiment. It may appear at the top or bottom of a family coat of arms.

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of a wide variety of arms, crests, and badges.  They may also feature additional heraldry resources as noted in the accompanying descriptions.

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·             Our Surname Locator And Resources web page contains the following: (1) links that will take you to an updated listing of all surnames as posted in our three databases at the Rootsweb WorldConnect Project; (2) the Surname List Finder a tool that finds sound-alike matches for a given surname from among RootsWeb's thousands of surname lists; (3) the Soundex Converter that can be used to find the soundex code for a surname, plus other surnames/spellings sharing the same soundex code;  (4) Surname Message Boards the world's largest online genealogy community with over 17 Million posts on more than 161,000 boards; (5) Surname Mailing Lists of all surnames having mailing lists at RootsWeb, as well as topics that include (6) Surname Heraldry, and  (7) Mapping a Surname. 

·              Your genealogy research of this surname can be facilitated by use of Surname Web. This website links to the majority of the surname data on the web, as well as to individual family trees, origin and surname meaning if known, and many other related genealogy resources. 

·              Surname Finder provides easy access to free and commercial resources for 1,731,359 surnames. On each surname specific "finder" page, you can search a variety of online databases all pre-programmed with your surname.

·             Use All Surnames Genealogy to get access to find your surname resources .  There are almost 1300 links in this directory.

·             SurnameDB Free database of surname meanings - This site SurnameDB.Com contains a large FREE to access database (almost 50,000 surnames) on the history and meaning of family last names.

·             Public Profiler / World Names - Search for a Surname to view its Map and Statistics.

·             Linkpendium Surnames - Web sites, obituaries, biographies, and other material specific to a surname.

·              Cyndi's List - Surnames, Family Associations & Family Newsletters Index - Sites or resources dedicated to specific, individual family surnames.  

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The following Link will take you to our library of genealogy reference books.   Here you will find bibliographies, family histories and books about names.  In addition, there are texts that pertain to ethnic and religion groups, history, geography as well as other books that will assist you with your research.

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